Firstly, I would like to express my gratitude to the many St. Raymond parishioners who helped to make our busy Advent and Christmas Season bright. We began with our annual Angel Tree project through which many, many local needy people received nice Christmas gifts. One of the gifts was a lovely red tricycle – perhaps some of you saw it in the sanctuary. It was a classic metal tricycle, complete with bell on the handle bars. Oddly, I was nearly moved to tears seeing it as I entered the sanctuary. I must be getting old!
I’m grateful for the extra efforts made by our staff and many parish volunteers to help decorate our church for the holidays. Fr. Bob and his decorating crew deserve special thanks. I received many comments on how beautiful the church looked this year. Thank you all for your efforts!
Thank you to our Music Director Rob Lappa and our musicians and choir members for a memorable Christmas concert. Our adult, Spanish-Mass, teen and children’s choirs all contributed to a beautiful repertoire of traditional and contemporary Christmas music. It was one of the best attended Christmas concerts we’ve had in years. Great job everyone!
My gratitude goes out to our Spanish-speaking community for organizing a lovely celebration of the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. This annual December event commemorates the day in which the Virgin Mary appeared on our continent in 1531 to bring the good news of the gospel to the indigenous peoples. After Mass was a traditional fiesta in the hall along with dance performances by the children.
I want to thank our many generous parishioners who regularly give of their time, talent and treasure to our parish. God knows who you are and I know who you are. You do your part in so many ways to spread the Light of Christ here at St. Raymond.
To all those who continue to fulfill or have successfully completed their pledges to our 2015 capital campaign, thank you so much. Without your help we wouldn’t have the many improvements to our parish and school recently completed. We look to our many new parishioners who have joined us since 2015 to assist us in bringing the capital campaign to a successful conclusion (we are in the last year of the pledge drive). Please make arrangements at our parish office with our Business Manager, Augustine Gill to learn more.
Here are two concerns I need to bring to your attention. I am very grateful for the dedication and wonderful performance of many of our liturgical ministers. The Mass is the highest form of liturgical worship in the Catholic faith and we should consider it an honor to contribute to a beautiful, prayerful and spirited Mass. But each week a fair number of our liturgical ministers optout at the last minute or do not show up at all. Before we issue a new schedule, we ask all ministers to let us know when they will not be able to serve. Still, we have this persistent problem. Please, if you are a liturgical minister, make it your personal priority to serve on your scheduled dates. If you must request a substitute, please do so well ahead of time (emergencies excepted, of course). If you may be interested in contributing your time and talent as a Lector, Eucharistic Minister, Projectionist, Altar Server, Sacristan or Usher we are very happy to train you. Please let us know at the parish office, which is open Sundays from 8:30 am – 1:00 pm.
Lastly, I don’t often speak to you about our responsibility to support the parish financially. Members of our Finance Council have noted that in the past 12 years we have actually seen no significant annual increase in the Sunday collection. Inflation, wages, costs for everything have gone up but the annual parish Sunday collection has remained stagnant. Mass attendance has remained stable over these years. In comparison with Protestants, Catholics regularly give less of their income to support the church. I believe they put a much greater emphasis on sacrificial giving than we do. I want to appeal to all our parishioners, and especially the parishioners who have joined us in recent years, to please step up their financial support of our parish. As evidenced by the stagnation in our income, the parish is doing all it can to control our expenses. Giving can easily be done online at our website. The recommended giving amount is 10% of gross income: 5% to St. Raymond and 5% to other charities. This is the biblical “tithe” (Deuteronomy 14:22). This is the percentage to grow toward if you/I haven’t yet reached it. Please do your best. Remember, God will never be outdone in generosity.
Thank you. I remember all of you in my prayers.